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Uk Security Industry To Lead Best Practice?...


Joe Harris

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We should be utilising Dual SIM card devices to improve security and resilience...

As anyone in the Electronic Security industry will be aware, there have recently been many reported intermittent failures across all of the current Major Network Operators (MNO's) such as T-Mobile and Vodafone

Some of this has been the result of MNOs upgrading their services to support 4G signalling (In some cases re-purposing 2G bandwidth for 4G services). Other outages have been due to planned maintenance work in the majority of cases. A small number have been the result of unplanned and unforeseen technical issues.

Our friends in Éire have also seen a number of instances where the mobile communications have been blocked intentionally by those seeking to attack a protected site or asset.

A significant proportion of the devices which currently utilise GPRS / 3G connections are dual path devices where the signal can be routed through the alternate path in the event of such an outage - Just as it was designed to do so.

We are as an industry, increasingly embracing the idea of replacing single path PSTN devices with (in some cases) single path mobile path devices. Some would contend that the death of PSTN connectivity is a certainty at some point in the future. It can certainly be agreed that pressures to compress data traffic of analogue communications could lead to further issues such as seen previously.

If we are to go ahead with such a mass migration of signalling devices, across to a medium that is currently under significant pressure to evolve, then we should ensure that we are taking all appropriate steps to mitigate any potential for our single path devices to fail to signal.

I propose that we should adopt Dual SIM devices wherever possible to improve our capacity to overcome either malicious attempts to prevent signalling and also provide for redundancy of communications when a MNO has an outage of their core networks (something which has happened too often already).

Some providers may indicate that they already provide a SIM capable of switching between several networks. This is absolutely true, however, what is not made clear in some cases is that an outage of the MNO with whom the SIM is hosted would mean that the SIM cannot 'lock onto' another network and is in effect rendered incapable of signalling due to an outage of a single supplier.

With a Dual SIM card device, each SIM can have a different host network and as such provide much greater resilience. A number of smart phones already utilise Dual SIM capability, in part to support international travel and also in part for improved signalling capability and fault mitigation.

As an industry we have for many years struggled to keep up with the changing pace of technology. In this aspect, we should now take the lead and establish the very best practise in the tradition of true British engineering and quality.

Take the time to encourage your signalling providers of choice and the ARCs you utilise to support this approach and set the bar higher in our continuing fight to secure and protect our end users.

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"Some providers may indicate that they already provide a SIM capable of switching between several networks. This is absolutely true, however, what is not made clear in some cases is that an outage of the MNO with whom the SIM is hosted would mean that the SIM cannot 'lock onto' another network and is in effect rendered incapable of signalling due to an outage of a single supplier."

 

I think many don't realise this; that the 'multisim' type of product can only help with day to day signal strength; not outright network failure. Interesting post as ever Joe, although I can't see manufacturers rushing to implement this, I wish they would though; for example I have a GPRS only site which fails every year when the Glastonbury carnival (with their temporary phone masts at full blast) rolls into town.  Ultimately the customer will not pay for dual path; but a quick switch to a competitors network, just for 3 days, would cure this.

 

Also, as I have mentioned before, a local town to us (Burnham) had no vodaphone whatsoever for 5 weeks earlier this year! So it is a real problem.

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